A felony murder charge against an amateur boxer accused of causing a man’s death during a sparring match was reduced in a DeKalb County courtroom Thursday.
Jordan Thornton, 21, now faces a misdemeanor involuntary manslaughter charge.
The charges stem from a May 8 incident in which Anthony Allen, 23, died after sparring with Thornton, according to an incident report obtained by AJC.com.
Thornton’s attorney, Keith Adams, said the men were boxing in the backyard of a home on Hemingway Road in Stone Mountain on the night of Allen’s death.
Thornton’s sister, Eboni, said Allen was her brother’s best friend. She said she hired Allen to work at her moving company at her brother’s referral, and he had just finished his first day on the job.
“They did so well together that day,” she said. “They had a long day, a long move. They had been talking about sparring all day and they were so excited.”
Thornton said her brother and Allen asked her to come watch while they sparred.
Adams said his client and Allen had been amateur boxers for three and five years, respectively. They would often film themselves in action, he said.
Video footage of the moments leading up to the incident shows both men wearing boxing gloves and throwing punches back and forth.
Then, Allen fell straight back into the hard dirt, Eboni Thornton said.
“We ran to him,” she said. “We thought he was just knocked out or something.”
Eboni Thornton said she called 911. Her brother had Allen in his arms and tried to wake him up, she said.
“The firefighters came and got him to calm down, because he still had (Allen) in his arms and was rocking him back and forth,” she said. “He was scared.”
But no police officers or investigators came to her house to interview her or another witness who was there, Thornton said.
“No one ever talked to us,” she said. “We never got to do anything.”
Adams said police did not contact his client for an interview before he was arrested.
“The next thing you know, there’s a warrant,” he said.
An incident report shows that DeKalb police spoke with Allen’s sister, but investigators declined to say if any other witnesses were interviewed prior to obtaining a warrant.
“I am unable to answer questions regarding witnesses or witness statements at this time because it could compromise the ongoing investigation,” DeKalb police spokesman Sgt. J.D. Spencer told AJC.com.
AJC.com was unable to locate a current phone number for Allen’s sister.
DeKalb police accused Thornton of punching Allen in the head repeatedly, causing bleeding and brain swelling.
Adams called it the “most ridiculous investigative job” he’s seen.
“I wasn’t going to have my client walking around with a fugitive squad coming to arrest him,” Adams said. “We didn’t want them kicking in doors. So we turned him in.”
Thornton was booked into the DeKalb jail May 13.
The allegations against Thornton were heard in a bond hearing Thursday, where Adams showed the videos of the two men sparring. Adams confirmed that a detective spoke with him before Thornton’s hearing, and said the detective’s testimony contributed to the reduced charge.
“They didn’t go as far as saying they made a mistake in arresting my client,” he said.
Thornton was released Friday morning on $2,500 bond, jail records show.
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